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Britain's top prosecutor Alison Saunders criticised by MPs over collapse of rape trials

Team SoOLEGAL 20 Jul 2018 5:30pm

Britain's top prosecutor Alison Saunders criticised by MPs over collapse of rape trials

Britain’s top prosecutor and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Alison Saunders was slammed by MPs yesterday for failing to tackle the problems that led to the collapse of dozens of rape cases.

The Commons Justice Select Committee in a report accused DPP Saunders of not recognizing the ‘extent of seriousness’ of failures – caused by delays in passing key evidence in prosecutions – which led to innocent people being locked up. 

The Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS’s) own internal review of rape and sexual offences seems to have underestimated the depth of the crisis, the report says.

The justice select committee has ordered a review after a series of rape cases collapsed, when it emerged that police and prosecutors had failed to disclose vital evidence to defendants’ lawyers.

The report further states that, in some case, the accused were just a few days away from their trial when they were being told that text and social media exchanges had emerged that proved their innocence.

Between January and mid-February alone, the CPS reviewed 3,637 cases in England and Wales and identified disclosure failings in 47 cases, all of which were halted.

Earlier, disclosure errors were said to be the primary reason behind delay in only five rape trials. However, the Justice Committee on Thursday concluded that the CPS had underestimated the number by around 90 per cent. Following this, the Committee then blamed Miss Saunders for “presiding over a worsening crisis as insufficient focus and leadership led to long-standing problems with disclosure of evidence going unresolved”.

Since 2013, the rate of prosecutions being halted due to disclosure failures has increased 40 percent. The committee, however, said that the actual scale of the problem was far wider.

Responding to the Justice Committee report, DPP Saunders said,

I have been very clear that addressing the long standing problems in managing disclosure across the criminal justice system is my top priority. Extensive action has been underway over the past year to bring about the necessary change not just in how cases are handled, but in the wider culture within the CPS and policing”. 

Tagged: Britain Top Prosecutor   Director of Public Prosecutions   DPP Alison Saunders   MPs   Justice Select Committee   Collapse of Rape Trials   CPS  
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